Sunday, 6 March 2016

Rediscovering creativity in life and blogging

I used to be creative and then I sort of switched off and stopped caring but I've rediscovered my joy in life and creating. A huge part of this is regaining my self confidence and not needing others approval but appreciating it if it happens.

initial sketch

I'm going to get a bit personal in this post which feels weird but hopefully ok.

I studied to be a surface designer and have an MA from Central Saint Martins but when studying was over I couldn't get a job in design and I couldn't afford to intern and I was worn out. I was out of love with design. On top of that I had been doing research on our throwaway society and I didn't want to contribute to that with my work but I didn't have the energy left to find a sustainable way of designing/making/selling. For that matter, I hated trying to sell my work. All I could see were the flaws and I felt like selling it was deceiving.

started cutting - this knife was so blunt and I was too nervous to snap it to the next bit of blade!

My passion and confidence burnt out. So I stopped trying. And it felt good. No more constant updating of my CV and portfolio and never finding work. No more getting so absorbed in my creative work that I'd forget to eat or sleep or even groom and end up emotionally and physically exhausted and strung out. No piles of unsold work in my tiny flat, taunting me with my laziness and lack of confidence to sell.

I started working as an administrator in the NHS nearly 7 years ago now and it has been great. I truly believe in the NHS and am so proud that we have it. I'm extremely organised and calm so I'm good at what I do. I was so proud during my 3 years patient facing - shy little me manning call centres and reception desks! I was told as a teenager I'd never get a job due to my shyness and difficulty with communicating verbally. Just having a job and interacting with people felt like a massive achievement.

finished cutting

So it has also been nearly 7 years since I really produced any kind of design. It has been a happy time. I needed to stop and take care of myself. I needed a stable job where I could know I was useful and helping people. I wanted some disposable income to enjoy this city and just spend time with family and friends. I married wonderful Stu. I went to exhibitions and ate at restaurants and got fit and explored London and didn't need to take my job home with me.

cunningly disguised....

But then I hit a low for pretty much all of 2014. My fragile confidence crumbled. Working alone in a basement office indulging my shyness, fertility fears, lack of money due to an expensive 2 bedroom flat (that we rented with the overexcited hope that a baby would soon fill the second bedroom) and the flat was freezing cold, so damp that shoes and countless possessions were going mouldy and it was riddled with mice and silverfish. Urggggh silverfish. They are disgusting! I had nightmares about silverfish.

I had a constant feeling that I had forgotten something terrible or done something awful. My sensitivity was on overdrive. I avoided countless social occasions. I fell out with a close friend. I felt like a teenager again.

I feel lucky that I had NHS counselling. I utterly hated the sessions and felt a mess every time. I don't even know how it helped but I guess it did.

I also started running again and regular yoga practice. I spent more quality time with fewer people. And started facing fears.

the mess at the other end of the table!

I'm in a good place again. I'm feeling joy and calm again. And I actually feel ready to create again.

I think blogging in itself is a form of creativity - it involves writing, photography, layouts, sometimes graphics. I think blogging has got me going again. Not only is it a way to record my life and hopefully connect with others, it is a creative outlet.

For me, creativity was a huge form of expression. I struggled so much to speak to people verbally and I was made aware they often thought I was stupid, or maybe not a fully realised person inside, or that I was thinking things that I wasn't. But using style and design and art, I could express who I was. When I stopped creating and started working in customer service, I thought, hey, I can communicate verbally now so I don't need a creative outlet.

Perhaps I need it less so, but doing this paper cut felt good. It's a drawing of my plant that my mum gave me as a housewarming gift ( we left the damp flat of horror and now live in a bright, warm one bed flat). It's a mothers day gift and I hope she'll understand that my gift includes the time spent drawing and cutting and arranging and thinking of her with love.

I thought I would lay it on marbled green paper...

I've felt creativity returning to my life in so many ways:

  • In taking more pleasure in styling my appearance and feeling good.

  • In experimenting with cooking.

  • In doing up our flat and curating the pictures on our walls.

  • In spending time outdoors and drinking in the beauty of everything.

  • In discovering Instagram and finding so many inspiring people and images.

  • In putting thought into my blog and reading others.

  • In actually deciding to sit down and draw and make this picture for my mum.

...but the orange looked better

I hope I will do more creative work this year and I hope I can be useful to Stu (my husband) as he works on his own creative projects. He designs and builds guitars -

It's a balancing act for me. I've previously allowed creativity to consume me. Even yesterday, I forgot to eat breakfast because I was absorbed in paper cutting.

My first priority is  to be kind and have fun and to love and be loved by my close family and friends. I need to take care of myself and be there for them. In order to take care of myself I need to eat, sleep, stay fit and groomed. And I need to communicate. I think creativity helps me to communicate. I don't need it to make money for me, but I need it to help me be myself.

Anyone reading, what helps you to feel creative or get yourself creating? What does creativity mean to you and what inspires you?

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